With last night’s 10th inning walk-off home run, the first of his career, Michael Brantley now sits one home run shy of matching last year’s career high of 10. It is just one more indication that we are witnessing a spectacular breakout season from Brantley. In addition to home runs, his .886 OPS is a career high for his time in the majors.
With the Indians off to a sporadic start, Brantley has been the one stable component of the lineup. Batting in the third spot, Brantley has been comfortable against both left and right handed pitchers. He currently leads the Indians in RBIs (33), Hits (47), and HR (9).
While last night’s win over the Detroit Tigers was a full team effort, it was Brantley who stepped up when the Indians needed him most. As has been the case for the majority of the season, the Indians had trouble getting runs in. Last night they went 3-13 with runners in scoring position and left 14 men on base. When you are struggling with runners in scoring position, you want your RBI leader in the batters box; the exact situation the Indians found themselves in.
We cannot expect Brantley to maintain this pacing for the remainder of the season, but he has already exceeded expectations and proven to be a valuable asset to the Indians, and worth every penny of his 4 year/$25 million extension. With Brantley the Indians have found the cornerstone of their lineup, and someone they can depend upon when a big play is needed at the plate.
When a team lacks stability out of the gate, sometimes all it takes is one players to get the rest of the lineup in order. If anyone on the Indians is up for the task, it appears to be Michael Brantley.